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Marlow, United Kingdom 2006


Project Status



Area 1,300m2

Holmewood nestles into the Chiltern Hills, on a private estate, two miles north of the village of Marlow on the River Thames. The surrounding landscape provides stunning views and lies within an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

The brief called for flexible accommodation, a home, but also a place to entertain, a neutral foil for furniture and art that was sensitive to its unique context whilst respecting local and distant views. Principal rooms should be flooded with daylight, with external walls that could open up and embrace the varying character of the surrounding landscape, letting fresh air flow throughout, with the thermal mass of the building used to temper the prevailing external climate.

The single story is approached through mature beech woods to the east, and lies at the head of a gently sloping south facing valley in open pasture. The setting integrates mature trees and a dramatic approach to create a heightened sense of arrival to a building whose overall form appears as an integral part of the gently undulating landscape.

Internally, an axial sequence of spaces link the entrance hall at the northern end to the principal reception rooms arranged along the glazed south facing elevation, with views down the valley to the hills beyond. The building is ordered around a covered central courtyard with a flush glazed roof allowing sunlight to flood into the spaces below. Guest bedrooms look out onto the woodland on the eastern side, with the kitchen and back of house areas to the west.

A concealed rising floor to the swimming pool in the courtyard, together with retracting walls connecting the principal reception rooms provide flexibility to accommodate a variety of functions within the house. Generous ceiling heights create a tremendous sense of space, with subtle clues to the underground nature of the home from within.

The graceful curve of the heavily insulated roof acts as a unifying feature floating above the accommodation below and providing a strong sense of orientation. Its earth and mown grass finish, together with the high thermal mass of the overall construction results in a highly energy efficient design which will be naturally ventilated for most of the year. Large sliding glass panels around the perimeter encourage cross ventilation of spaces and break down the boundary between internal spaces and the external landscape.

Project team:

Planning Consultant: Quantity Surveyors: Structural Engineers: M+E: Lighting Architects:

JC Emmett Planning Consultants Wheelers Expedition Engineering Curona Design Speirs and Majors Associates

Acoustic Consultants: Health and Safety: Specifications: Landscape Architects: Main Contractor:

Sandy Brown Faber Maunsell Schumann Smith Mike Miller JONAP

hamiltons architects

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